“That is transparency on steroids!” My friend said when I told her the following story.
Viola! Blog inspiration!
I recently stuck my neck out to help a group of people. It seemed a harmless thing to do at the time. None of them held axes. None of them appeared to be serial killers. (Well there is that one woman with a fetish for blades. Hindsight.) It seemed a safe place to lay it out there.
I was so wrong.
It wasn’t what they said. It was what I heard.
Sometimes when we ask for honesty, we have no idea what we are saying. We really meant to say, “be honest about your positive feelings, but lie to me about what you don’t like.” Sure we all agree that growth comes from trusted critique. There are times when I am stalwart, steady, rock solid, ready to handle criticism. I relish adventure, jumping out on a limb, doing that thing that scares me. My friends call me XenLa, Warrior Writer. I am pretty fearless. *sniff, yeah.
But sometimes it is necessary to circle the wagons. Pull back and let the steam roll of opinion and internet honesty —it really is the most brutal kind— pass you by. Refrain from those death defying choices and life changing decisions. Refuse to make a permanent decision in a temporary mindset.
These are the times I’ve identified as moments when it is necessary to put “Shields up Captain?” Don’t take chances when you are in these predicaments. Stay in the Neutral Zone.
1. Within a year of severe loss.
If you’ve had a recent loss—yes, anything less than a year is considered recent—you need to be aware that your normal response to critique or rejection is going to be exaggerated. Your feelings of abandonment and loss simmer at the surface. The slightest scratch causes them to spew out. Surround yourself with safe friends, routine activities, and trusted advisers.
2. If you notice any of the following symptoms in your life.
- Persistent sad, anxious or “empty” feelings
- Feelings of hopelessness and/or pessimism
- Irritability, restlessness, anxiety
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness and/or helplessness
- Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable
- Fatigue and decreased energy
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering details and making decisions
- Insomnia, waking up during the night, or excessive sleeping
- Overeating, or appetite loss
- Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts
- Persistent aches or pains, headaches, cramps or digestive problems that do not ease even with treatment
There may be a chance that you are experiencing a medical condition called depression. See your mental health provider for treatment. If you have 4 or more of the listed symptoms, now is not a good time to take chances. Get help, put your health ahead of any other issues or ambitions.
3. Surrounding a major life change.
Have you moved, had a change in relationship status, lost a loved one, job status change, empty nest, financial crisis? All of these are considered MAJOR. Be kind to yourself right now. Relax the standards that push you beyond your limits. Set up boundaries. Make sure the people and influences you let in are promoting well being. Reject any guilt associated with insisting on calmness and serenity. Now is the time to step back, be cared for instead of caring for others for a change. Give yourself room and time to heal so when you do come back, you will be even stronger for those around you.
4. When you’ve just recovered from a major snafu.
Failure is great! It teaches you. It brings you closer to success. Experience truly is the best teacher. If you’ve recently taken a chance and feel you failed, first I applaud you. You stepped out there and did something brassy and bold. KUDOS! Second, take a moment. It’s not a matter of getting back up on the horse. Of course you are going to do that! It’s you after all, risk taker, dream maker, status quo shaker! But take a breather. Make a list of the things you did right and a list of the things that could be improved upon. Analyze the ins and outs. Learn from the mistakes and start phase II planning. Now is not the time to leap into another iffy situation. Plan your work and work your plan. The time will come for the next big leap of faith and you will be ready.
5. When everything inside you screams “STOP!”
I’m not talking about letting fear rule you. You know the difference between fear and common sense. When that voice deep inside of you says “Don’t do this!” Listen. Some call it common sense, instinct, a knowing, divinity, or intuition. Whatever you call it, don’t ignore it. It is wisdom and you have it. Use it. Often we let our egos, our ambitions, our inner need for approval override the voice of wisdom. Learn to trust that voice inside of you. Guess what, it’s on your side.
You know that little incident I told you about earlier? All five of these things were screaming at me. I didn’t listen. Crash. Fail. Live and learn.
Learn from my mistakes. It’s so much easier than scraping yourself off the concrete slab of humiliation or fishing yourself out of the frozen river of OMG!